polis: a collective blog about cities worldwide

Radical Urban Politics

by Natalia Echeverri

The documentary “Cities on Speed – Bogota Change” tells the story of how two anti-traditional politicians: Antanas Mockus and Enrique Peñalosa changed a city that was considered one of the worst ones in the world, due to corruption and insecurity.

In 1995, Mockus, a mathematician and philosopher became mayor of Bogota for a first term without having any political experience. Through radical urban ideas he turned Bogota into an “experiment in political theory.” By implementing drastic and eccentric political programs, like putting 420 mimes in the street to help enforce traffic rules and making news appearances dressed in spandex and a cape, he educated the citizens of Bogota, in a way that the city transformed itself.

Three years later, Peñalosa became mayor of Bogota and executed his own unorthodox political methods. He used urban design strategies to increase equality. By recovering sidewalks, creating new public space and improving public transit and schools the city was transformed not only physically but equitably since it affected a majority of its citizens.Italic
You can find the six-part documentary on YouTube. It's worth seeing.